Coke vs. Pepsi: Case Study

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Two global leaders in the beverage industry are undoubtedly Coke and Pepsi – two companies identical in production, consumption, and flagship. On the surface, both companies represent two similar business models. However, these two leading worldwide companies are still competing to outshine each other on different levels. It is curious how people cannot tell the difference between their products, flavors, and branding. Meanwhile, the difference is seen on the upper level. Both companies being socially responsible are still struggling to be number one on the market by implementing various programs, grants, and initiatives in different spheres of life. The purpose of this paper is to investigate which company is the best corporate citizen.


Coca-Cola is a company founded in 1866 by Doctor John Pemberton, a pharmacist from Atlanta, Georgia. Initially, the beverage was sold as a medicinal drink in Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta. Sales for the first year were a whopping $50. The soda formula was acquired by Asa Candler, who unified the company in 1892. 1916 was the year when Coca-Cola issued its first signature bottle that is still recognized today. Robert Woodruff, the company’s president of 1928, decided to introduce Coca-Cola to the overseas public and brought it to the Olympic Games.

The 1960s were signified by adding new sodas such as Fanta, Sprite, Fresca, and the Minute Maid juices to the line of business. During the 1980s, the company was exposed to innovations. Back then, the company issued Diet Coke, which became the top low-calorie drink in the industry. As a result, Coca-Cola or Coke has become a leading beverage production worldwide as it found homes everywhere. Today, Cola is one of the ubiquitous brands that keep supplying its products with an average serving of 1.4 billion a day.


PepsiCo was established by an American pharmacist Caleb Bradham in 1893 named Brad’s Drink initially. He renamed the drink in 1898 as he believed the drink was a “healthy” soda, deriving from the word dyspepsia, denoting indigestion (PepsiCo 2020). In 1902 Bradham founded a corporation due to the growing demand and popularity of the drink and in 1903 in Pepsi became an official trademark. In 1904, Pepsi-Cola sales reached their peak – 20,000 gallons. The sales rise took its toll on the production; therefore, Bradham suggested a new form of Pepsi in bottles.

By 1910 the company decided to open 240 franchises in 24 states. The bankruptcy occurred in 1923 due to World War I. Charles Guth bought the company’s assets and re-established the production. He wanted to replace Coca-Cola at his stores’ fountains after the refusal of the Coca-Cola Company to give him extra discounts on syrup. After years of ups and downs, PepsiCo regained its leading position. In 2013, Pepsi was put #1 on the list of Most Respected Companies.

Corporate Social Responsibilities of Coke and Pepsi

Despite the alikeness of the companies, there are several aspects that differentiate them from one another and make one of them a true leader. The chief distinguishing feature primarily concerns corporate citizenship which implies that both corporations have their own specific social responsibilities that establish their reputation. Among such responsibilities are public contributions to a diversity of human activities. Corporate social responsibilities can be defined as aspects of economics, ethics, and legality that reflect on the company’s performance.


Coca-Cola keeps on following corporate social responsibility. The foundation even established a concept named “Live Positively” that comprises several main areas of attention: active and healthy lifestyle, climate change, beverage benefits, sustainable energy, the community, and the workplace (The Coca-Cola Company 2016). Coca-Cola set these areas as crucial due to the firm’s willingness to accomplish its goals and improve sustainability standards. In general, the corporation endeavors to improve its reputation by implementing new initiatives and social projects.

The foundation launched several projects urging its customers to lead a healthy lifestyle. One of the most vivid programs suggested by the company was Copa Coca-Cola, which is the “longest-running and most successful physical activity program, reaching young people around the globe” (The Coca-Cola Company 2016, para. 1). The project was released in 1998 in Mexico and later spread worldwide to urge teenagers to play football at all levels culminating in the World Cup.

What is more, the company set as its priority women empowering across countries? For instance, “since 2016, nearly 200,000 women have been trained and empowered through “Success is ME,” the biggest and most comprehensive professional activation program for women in Poland” (Business & Sustainability Report 2018, 35). Therefore, Coca-Cola promotes economic women empowerment that has a positive influence on the company’s growth. Moreover, it enables all the firm’s workers to develop different skills allowing them to participate in in-company programs. Thus, Coca-Cola values its employees and believes that they are the foundation for success.

Another social responsibility the company cooperates with is the reduction of wastes, sensible usage of water recourses, and climate change. Coke decided to deal with waste recycling by creating new environmentally friendly packaging (The Coca-Cola Company 2016). As a result, Coca-Cola introduced PlantBottle which is made of recycled materials. According to the source, in 2007, Coke embarked on Water Stewardship Program to create creating a “water-sustainable” business” (Business & Sustainability Report 2018). Thus, less water was utilized for the company’s manufacturing. Coca-Cola is mainly committed to water utilization issues and recycling wastes assuming to ameliorate parameters and indices by the year 2030. In addition to climate change, the corporation signed Copenhagen Communique to reduce its carbon footprint and contribute to the issue of global warming.


Pepsi’s primary objective is to be the world’s best customer-orientated firm that has is focused on convenient foods and drinks provision. The company provides various financial rewards and opportunities for its employees, investors, business partners, and different communities that cooperate with Pepsi (PepsiCo 2020). Pepsi’s primary values are integrity and honesty. Furthermore, Pepsi established itself as a global company adjusting to every culture due to the wise marketing plans suitable to each country. “It is PepsiCo’s goal to encourage a diverse corporate culture along with employee engagement in the workplace and community” (Berch, Montoya, and Sawayda n.d., 10). Thus, it still manages to promote its products and provide workplaces according to the wants and needs of residents coming from different states.

The company tightly deals with Corporate Social Responsibility, thus, has a high level of commitment to this principle. Pepsi views sustainability as its essential aspect and invests in a better future for mankind and the planet. In 2010, Pepsi launched a project in the U.S. called the “Dream Machine” that represented a recycling initiative that aimed to implement innovative technologies and engage the company’s customers into ameliorating environmental conditions. Pepsi was concerned that people throw away plastic Pepsi cans that contaminate the surroundings (Berch, Montoya, and Sawayda n.d.). Therefore, the firm installed recycling kiosks at the grocery stores, theaters, and other public places to boost citizens’ involvement in the project.

Since PepsiCo is concerned with environmentalism, the company decided to purchase renewable energy certificates in 2007. They planned on total switching to solar power and recycled water to produce less contamination to the environment (Berch, Montoya, and Sawayda n.d.). Recycled water is also a significant concern for PepsiCo; therefore, in 2009, the company helped to replenish around six billion liters of water in India.

Moreover, Pepsi is involved in charity projects and donates thousands of dollars supporting diverse communities. Around 13 million Americans lack nutritious meals regularly (PepsiCo 2020). Therefore, the foundation granted money to the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina’s Stop Summer Hunger Campaign that provides children with meals during school summer breaks (PepsiCo 2020). What is more, PepsiCo donated a grant to Craven County Disaster Recovery Alliance that will ensure every building that suffered from Hurricane Florence would be reconstructed.


Considering all the abovementioned aspects, it is evident that both Pepsi and Coke are standing alongside. However, a better corporate citizen company is Coca-Cola due to the quality and effectiveness of the initiatives it offers. Even though Pepsi’s plans are by no means worse, its primary goal is to provide sustainability, primarily focusing on environmental issues, whereas Coke promotes more ideas concerning empowerment and a healthy lifestyle. Moreover, the company seems to have long-term, prosperous programs and a broad perspective on future innovations.

Works Cited

Berch, Kendra, Montoya, Kimberly, and Jennifer Sawayda. n.d. “PepsiCo’s Journey Toward an Ethical and Socially Responsible Culture.” Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative, 1-16.

Business & Sustainability Report. 2018. Web.

PepsiCo. 2020. Web.

The Coca-Cola Company. 2016. “Active & Healthy Lifestyle.” The Coca-Cola Company. Web.

The Coca-Cola Company. 2016. The Coca-Cola Company. Web.

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